T-Mobile Won't Charge a Premium for 5G

T-Mobile said Thursday morning that handsets that work with its forthcoming 5G network will be available in the second half of 2019, revealing that it does not plan to charge more for its 5G plans than it does for its current 4G LTE offerings today.

T-Mobile says that 5G will be in the second half of this year.

"I know, as we move into the latter half of this year," said CTO Neville Ray on the earnings call. "Our customers are going to see much faster speeds than they do today, if they have a 5G-capable handset, compared to just being on LTE."

Mike Sievert, T-Mobile's Chief Operating Officer said on the earnings call Thursday, that T-Mobile isn't planning to charge a "premium" for 5G over its current 4G plans.

"We don't have plans -- for the smartphone plans that you see today -- to charge differently for 5G enablement versus 4G enablement," Sievert said.

He added that the carrier has "big plans for incremental revenues" from 5G growth from adding home broadband service and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities to its network.

CTO Neville Ray said "multi-mode" handsets (millimeter wave and 600MHz) compatible with the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio specification (5G NR) will be available in the second half of 2019. T-Mobile has previously said that its 5G network will be switched on as compatible handsets arrive.

"We're excited about what we see coming, via a multi-mode device," Ray said, adding that this fits the plans T-Mobile is working towards. T-Mobile plans to start 5G services.

Initially, T-Mobile plans 600MHz low-band 5G in 30 cities in the US. It has built out the infrastructure for the initial network already. The 600MHz band will be used to offer 5G "nationwide" in 2020, the carrier says. (See T-Mobile Quietly Confirms 5G Network in 30 Cities and T-Mobile Promises 'Nationwide' 5G in 2020 With New Spectrum.)

CTO Ray says that "millimeter wave" compatible 5G NR handsets could possibly be ready for launch in the first half of this year. He made clear, however, that multi-mode and 600MHz devices will arrive in the second half of the year. Such units will offer much more widespread coverage through the 600MHz coverage, which will offer traditional cellular-style coverage in the low-band, unlike the 1,000 to 2,000 feet offered by millimeter wave. (See Millimeter Wave 5G: The Usain Bolt of Wireless?)

T-Mobile plans to add to millimeter wave spectrum to its 5G network over time. The 600MHz band will be the backbone of the network initially. (See T-Mobile & Sprint Tell Senate US Will Win Global 5G Race.)

For the fourth quarter, T-Mobile announced revenue of $11,4 billion, up 6% year-on-year. Net income was $640 million, down 76% compared to the same quarter last year. For the full year, T-Mobile reported net income of $2.9 billion on revenue of $43.3 billion.

The operator pre-announced its Q4 customer numbers early in January. It added 2.4 million customers in the quarter ended in December, with around 1.4 million of these being monthly (postpaid) subscribers. (See T-Mobile Breaks Records Again With 2.4M New Connections.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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